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Secret International Trade Agreement (MAI)
Undermines the Sovereignty of Nations

The apparent goal of the latest international trade negotiations is to safeguard multinational corporate investments by eliminating democratic regulatory control by nation-states and local governments. The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) plans to set in place a vast series of protections for foreign investment. It would threaten national sovereignty by giving corporations nearly equal rights to those of nations. MAI delegates from 29 of the world's richest nations have been meeting secretly in France since 1995. A draft of their work was leaked in January of 1997. More wide-reaching and one-sided than NAFTA or GATT, MAI would thrust the world economy much closer to a transnational laissez-faire system where international corporate capital would hold free reign over the democratic wishes and socioeconomic needs of people.

Pushed by the International Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Council on International Business, the major goal of the MAI is to safeguard direct foreign investment, defined broadly as encompassing any assets-factories, products, services, currency, stocks, etc.-which may be located in one country, but owned by a company, corporation, or individual in another country. U.S. direct foreign investment alone has more than doubled in the last ten years.

Traditionally, foreign investment has involved enormous risk, most notably in developing nations where the social, political, and economic climate is not always as conducive to foreign investment as corporations would like. Governments have commonly also put into place tariffs and subsidies favoring their home economies. These provisions shrink foreign profit margins and reduce the dollar amount multinational corporations can take out of a host country.

The new and controversial MAI agreement requires "national treatment" for all foreign investors. Governments will no longer be able to treat domestic firms more favorably than foreign firms. It will be illegal to implement restrictions on what foreign firms can own. Subsidy programs focused on assisting and developing domestic industries will be eliminated. Host nations will also be liable and can be sued by corporations for lost competitiveness and profits. There are no provisions for localized citizen and community legal recourse.

The MAI will also have devastating effects on a nation's legal, environmental, and cultural sovereignty. It will force countries to relax or nullify human, environmental, and labor protection in order to attract investment and trade. Necessary measures such as food subsidies, control of land speculation, agrarian reform, and the implementation of health and environmental standards can be challenged as "illegal" under the MAI. This same illegality is extended to community control of forests, local bans on use of pesticides and hormone-induced foods, clean air standards, limits on mineral, gas and oil extraction, and bans on toxic dumping.

A telling example involves the U.S.-based Ethyl Corporation's suit against the Canadian government. A Canadian law bans the use of MMT, a gasoline additive and known toxin which Ethyl produces. Under the NAFTA protocols which serve as a "model for the MAI," Ethyl is suing Canada for $251 million, arguing that the regulation is unnecessary and violates their rights as a firm under NAFTA. While still pending, the case is an excellent example, and will test what corporations can claim as their rights under transnational policies like NAFTA and GATT. MAI would go a step further and allow corporations to directly sue any level of government-state, municipal, or federal-for what they perceive as losses based on legislative action, strikes, or boycotts.

Most at risk are developing nations and the natural resource and common property resource base. MAI would seriously exacerbate the pressure on undeveloped nations to deplete their own agricultural, mining, fishing, and forestry assets. The conditions of the agreement would undermine the capacity of local communities and municipalities to govern sustainably and democratically.

First proposed by the World Trade Organization just after the passage of GATT in 1995, MAI negotiations continue among the member countries of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The 29-member OECD, an association composed of 29 of the world's richest countries, originated in the aftermath of World War II to administer U.S. aid to Europe.

UPDATE by author Joel Bleifuss: ' The Multilateral Agreement on Investment(MAI) has been described by Renato Ruggerio, the director general of the World Trade Organization as 'the constitution for a new global economy.' Yet this is a constitution that has been written outside of the public gaze by anonymous trade bureaucrats. And while there has been almost no citizen participation in the process, the United States Council for International Business, representing 600 corporations as the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce, has been integrally involved in the MAI negotiations. In fact the group has reported, that it has 'helped shape the U.S. negotiating positions by providing business views and technical advice on specific policy issues at regular meetings with U.S. negotiators immediately before and after each MAI negotiating session.'

"By late 1998, the negotiations at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had reached an impasse. Some countries thought that the World Trade Organization should oversee implementation of the agreement, while others, principally the United States, wanted MAI kept within the confines of the much more exclusive OECD.

"The mainstream press has almost completely ignored the MAI negotiations. MAI will likely only become a 'story' when the negotiations are finalized and the treaty is submitted to the Senate for ratification. And at that point there will be no room for public or legislative discussion over what such a treaty should entail. Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch [Tel: (202)546-4996; http://www.citizen.org] and the Preamble Center [Tel: (202) 265-3263; http:// www. preamble.org] are the two organizations doing the most to monitor the MAI negotiations and to raise public awareness of how the treaty will affect the U.S. and world economics."


Monsanto's Genetically Modified Seeds
Threaten World Production

Over the 12,000 years that humans have been farming, a rich tradition of seed saving has developed. Men and women choose seeds from the plants that are best adapted to their own locale and trade them within the community, enhancing crop diversity and success rates. All this may change in the next four to five years. Monsanto Corporation has been working to consolidate the world seed market and is now poised to introduce new genetically engineered seeds that will produce only infertile seeds at the end of the farming cycle. Farmers will no longer be able to save seeds from year to year and will be forced to purchase new seeds from Monsanto each year.

On March 3, 1998, Delta Land and Pine Company, a large American cotton seed company, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that they had been awarded a patent on a technique that genetically disables a seed's ability to germinate when planted a second season. This patent covers not only the cotton and tobacco varieties, but, potentially, all cultivated crops. Scarcely two months after the patent was awarded, Monsanto, the world's third largest seed corporation and second largest agrochemical corporation, began the process of acquiring Delta Land and Pine and with it the rights to this new technology.

It is noteworthy that the USDA stands to earn 5 percent royalties of net sales if this technology is commercialized. Historically the USDA has received government money for research aimed at benefiting farmers, but recently the USDA has been turning more and more often to private companies for funding. As a result, for the first time in history, research is being done for the benefit of corporations, sometimes in direct opposition to farmers' interests.

In an interview with Leora Broydo, Melvin Oliver, USDA researcher on the patent-producing technique, stated that the research is a way to put "billions of dollars spent on research back into the system." When Broydo called back to ask exactly whose billions would be recouped by USDA's patent, Oliver said he had been instructed not to speak to the press any further.

Dubbed "Terminator technology" by Hope Shand of the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI), Monsanto's new seeds have diverse implications, including the disruption of traditional farming practices around the world, the altering of the earth's biodiversity, and possible impacts on human health.

Monsanto has euphemistically called the process by which seeds are disabled the "technology protection system." A primary objective of Terminator technology is to grant and protect corporate rights to charge fees for patents on products that are genetically modified. Terminator technology offers no advantage by itself, but when coupled with the production of the strongest, highest yielding seeds, farmers may be compelled to buy single-season plants. Due to the nature of modern farming, many farmers will have little choice. Up to this point the boldest attempt at policing crops has been made by Monsanto, who hires Pinkerton agents to ferret out wayward American farmers who save patented soybean seeds for reuse or trade. However, this method is minimally effective in foreign markets.

Genetic engineering is still in its early stages and the effects of flooding the environment with extensive transgenic monocrops are unpredictable. Traits from genetically engineered plants can sometimes be passed on to wild relatives in the area, causing genetic pollution, which has the potential to alter ecosystems in unknown ways for an indefinite period of time.

Terminator plants, if introduced on a wide scale, will effectively constrict worldwide crop diversity by preventing farmers from engaging in the seed selection and cross breeding that has, for thousands of years, given them the ability to adapt crops to local conditions. Crop uniformity increases vulnerability to pests and disease and heightens the potential for mass famine.

UPDATE by authors Hope Shand and Pat Mooney: "[the] story on Terminator seed technology alerted the world to a dangerous new genetic technology that threatens to eliminate the right of farmers to save seeds from their harvest. This technology offers no agronomic benefit to farmers-it is designed simply to increase seed industry profits by forcing farmers to return to the commercial seed market every year.

"Terminator technology is a threat to global food security because it is aimed for use in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where over 1.4 billion people-primarily poor farmers-depend on farm-saved seed.

"There is an avalanche of public opposition to this technology. When we learned that Monsanto had entered into negotiations with the USDA to obtain an exclusive license on the Terminator patent, we launched an international email protest campaign on our Web site. In recent months over 3,500 people have written to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman from 60 countries, urging him to cease negotiations with Monsanto, abandon research on Terminator, and withdraw patent claims that are pending in over 87 countries.

"The specter of genetic seed sterilization is so serious that the world's largest network of agricultural researchers adopted a policy in October 1998 prohibiting the use of the technology in its Third World plant-breeding programs. India's agriculture minister says he will ban the import of Terminator seeds because of the potential harm to Indian agriculture. Terminator technology is on the 1999 agenda of two United Nations agencies. Civil society organizations and national governments aim to reject the Terminator patent on the basis of public morality."

For more information: http://www. rafi.org.

UPDATE by author Brian Tokar: "The Ecologist magazine's special issue on Monsanto has helped crystallize a growing, worldwide opposition to the company's aggressive promotion of its genetically engineered crop varieties. When The Ecologist's printer of 26 years refused to release the magazine and discarded 14,000 copies, citing fears of a libel suit, the ensuing controversy helped contribute to Monsanto's rapidly deteriorating image all across Europe and worldwide. Public controversies over genetically engineered foods have escalated throughout Europe, as well as in Latin America, East Asia, and elsewhere. A farmers' movement in southern India burned test plots of Monsanto's pesticide-secreting cotton in November of 1998, calling for a worldwide campaign to 'Cremate Monsanto.'

"The Ecologist story has received little play in the United States, outside of alternative outlets such as Z Magazine, the Multinational Monitor, and various electronic mailing lists for opponents of biotechnology. Still, opposition is growing here as well, and Monsanto has faced declining stock values and the collapse of its planned merger with the pharmaceutical giant American Home Products.

Farmers report persistent problems with Monsanto's genetically engineered corn and cotton varieties, and there is growing evidence that biotech crops contaminate neighboring fields with their pollen. A new coalition of biotech opponents and environmental activists in the Northeast has called for a nationwide campaign against the sale of genetically engineered seeds."


New England Resistance Against Genetic Engineering c/o Institute for Social Ecology P.O. Box 89, Plainfield, VT 05667 (802) 454-8493 briant@earth.goddard.edu

Biodevastation Network c/o Edmonds Institute 20319-92nd Avenue West Edmonds, WA 98020 (425) 775-5383 beb@igc.org

Gateway Green Alliance P.O. Box 8094 St. Louis, MO 63156 (314) 727-8554 fitzdon@aol.com

London-based genetics e-mail list: genetics@gn.apc.org


Campaign for Food Safety http://www.purefood.org

Rural Advancement Foundation International http://www.rafi.ca


U.S. Weapons of Mass Destruction
Linked to the Deaths of a Half-Million Children

For the past seven years, the United States has supported sanctions against Iraq that have taken the lives of more Iraqi citizens than did the war itself. The Iraqi people are being punished for their leader's reticence to comply fully with U.S.-supported U.N. demands "to search every structure in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction." Ironically, 1994 U.S. Senate findings uncovered evidence that U.S. firms supplied at least some of the very biological material that the U.N. inspection teams are now seeking. Although the United States defames the Iraqi government for damaging the environment and ignoring U.N. Security Council resolutions, it has itself engaged in covert wars in defiance of the World Court, and left behind a swath of ecological disasters in its continuing geopolitical crusade. Blum considers the U.S. demands both excessive and hypocritical.

A 1994 U.S. Senate panel report indicated that between 1985 and 1989, U.S. firms supplied microorganisms needed for the production of Iraq's chemical and biological warfare. The Senate panel wrote: "It was later learned that these microorganisms exported by the United States were identical to those the United Nations inspectors found and removed from the Iraqi biological warfare program." Blum writes that shipments included biological agents for anthrax, botulism, and e-coli. The shipments were cleared even though it was known

at the time that Iraq had already been using chemical and possibly biological warfare since the early 1980s. The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles reported in 1990 that more than 207 companies from 21 western countries, including at least 18 from the United States, were contributing to the buildup of Saddam Hussein's arsenal.

In one stunning incident in September 1989, according to Bernstein, U.S. military officials invited several Iraqi technicians, along with some 400 other participants from 20 countries, to attend a crash course on how to detonate a nuclear weapon. The course was held at the Red Lion Inn in Portland, Oregon. Sponsors included several military agencies, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, and Sperry/Unisys, among others.

The sanctions imposed on Iraq are causing shortages of food, medical supplies, and medicines. Since the war ended, more than half a million children under the age of five have died. UNICEF reports that 150 children are dying every day. Moreover, countless Iraqi deaths

have been caused by exposure to depleted uranium (DU) weapons left behind at the end of Desert Storm. According to Space and Security Neus, DU can be linked to birth defects known to be caused by radiation exposure. In the last seven years the rate of cancer among Iraqi children has increased dramatically. DU has a half-life of millions of years. Attempts at cleanup will be largely futile and are a low priority for a people faced with finding the basic necessities of food and medicine. Iraqi children wade daily through this poisoned "playground."

The United States holds the position that sanctions against Iraq must continue until it can be proven that the country is unable to build biological and chemical weapons. Noam Chomsky observed in a 1990 PBS appearance that, since the 1940s, U.S. foreign policy has been one of maintaining control over the abundant energy resources in the Gulf region. Blum contends that the true purpose of the sanctions is to ultimately oust Hussein from power and lessen any threat to U.S. control of the region's oil resources.

UPDATE by author Dennis Bernstein: "As of this writing, the United States and Great Britain have just concluded Operation Desert Fox, a massive four-day bombing of Iraq, unleashing more explosives on the country in 96 hours than during the entirety of the 1991 Gulf War. The timing of the high-tech missile attack was curious, to say the least. It began the day before impeachment hearings were due to commence in Washington, DC and ended on Ramadan, the Muslem high holy day.

"U.S. officials denied the assault was timed to distract attention from Clinton's impending impeachment or to push the process into a new congress with a slimmer republican majority. Instead, they claimed the bombings were a result of a brand-new UNSCOM report compiled by chief inspector Richard Butler, which stated that Iraq failed to fully cooperate with U.N. inspectors. But the bottom line of the Butler Report was that the overwhelming majority of inspections were going forward with Iraqi cooperation and that officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency received 'sufficient cooperation to carry out all the inspections they want.'

"So then, beyond the obvious impeachment distractions and the longstanding U.S. policy of dominating and controlling Middle Eastern oil resources, why the desperate need to bomb now? Critics and supporters of the bombing seem to agree that it was an attempt to destabilize Iraq, so America's former good friend and ally, Saddam Hussein, could be overthrown by CIA-supported opposition forces. Defense Secretary William Cohen denied that was the U.S. objective, but stated it would certainly be a welcome outcome. The real significance of 'Made in America' is not only that the U.S. and its allies played a significant role in arming Iraq with weapons of mass destruction, but that those companies and politicians that were responsible for this lucrative but deadly policy were never held accountable. And there has been no attempt to take them to task.

"'We know that, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, companies in the U.S., France, Germany, Russia, Britain, and elsewhere were providing technology and advice to the Iraqis,' said Middle East expert, Phyliss Bennis. 'We don't know if that's still going on. We don't know the sources because UNSCOM has been forbidden from making that public. That has to change. If they were serious about disarmament, rather than serious about providing justifications for bombing, they would take up the disarmament issue in a regional context and go after the suppliers,' said Dennis."

UPDATE by author most Rev. Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF, Ret: "Few Americans are aware of the enormous human toll of our continuing war against Iraq. Five months after the publication of our article, the mainstream press reported Iraq's 'claims' of dying children and soaring cancer rates. But one TV 'expert' after another denied that depleted uranium could have caused these effects. One said, 'After all, it's just what the name says-depleted.' Another described it as just 'the scrap metal left when you take out radioactive uranium.'

"The truth is, depleted uranium is just as radioactive as 'natural' uranium. A11 that's gone is the U-235 isotope which gives off excess neutrons required for a fission chain reaction. The U-238 left gives off alpha particles, creating Thorium-234. This, in turn, gives off beta and gamma radiation, creating Protactinium. The chain continues through a dozen radioactive isotopes, finally producing the stable element lead. Every hunk of depleted uranium contains all these other radiation byproducts, with half-lives ranging from a few millionths of a second to a quarter of a million years. The stuff gives off every type of natural radiation, both the beta and gamma rays-which attack the body from without, even through clothing-and the alpha, which is deadly if ingested and becomes trapped inside the body. What's more, it's water-soluble and (unlike the plutonium in RTGs) capable of getting into the food chain. And this Chernobyl was no accident!"

To learn more, see http:l/www.ramausa. org.ccnr.org, or http://www. rmbowman.com.


U.S. Nuclear Program Subverts
U.N.'s Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

When scientists in India conducted a deep underground test on May 11, it was seen as a violation of the United Nation's Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). However, two months before, the United States carried out a test that went largely unnoticed by the American media. Code-named "Stagecoach," the U.S. experiment called for the detonation of a 227-pound nuclear bomb at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Nevada Test Site, which is co-managed by Bechtel Corporation, Lockheed Martin, and Johnson Controls. While perceived as a hostile act by many nations of the world, government officials claim that since it was a "subcritical" test, meaning no nuclear chain reaction was maintained, it was "fully consistent with the spirit and letter of the CTBT." Furthermore, they claim it was necessary to ensure the "safety and reliability" of America's aging nuclear arsenal.

Disputing this "safety and reliability" claim, foreign leaders believe that "Stagecoach" was in fact designed to test the effectiveness of America's weapons if, and when, they are ever used again. Though India refused to sign the Treaty because it wasn't comprehensive enough, the countries that did felt the CTBT would halt new weapons development and promote the move toward disarmament. The European Parliament issued an official warning to the United States declaring that further experiments might open the door for other nations to progress to full-scale testing. Leaders from China and Japan also harshly criticized the United States, calling for America to stop "skirting its responsibility for arms reduction."

Underground experiments aren't the U.S. government's only method of subverting the treaty, says The Nation. In July 1993, Clinton introduced the Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP) which allots $45 billion over the next 10 years to finance new research facilities. Even when adjusted for inflation, this amount is larger than the per-year budget during the Cold War when much of the cost went to actually producing the nuclear arsenal. While the CTBT prohibits the "qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons," this program will fund the building of nuclear accelerators, giant x-ray machines, and the largest glass laser in the world.

One of the most controversial elements of the SSP is the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI), which is intended to develop a "full-system, full-physics predictive code to support weapons designs, production analysis, accident analysis, and certification"-in other words, a virtual nuclear testing program. The ASCI will create a $910 million network of powerful super-computers that will allow scientists to continue developing and testing new weapons without attracting the wrath of actual experimentation. Despite this, DOE officials still insist the SSP was born only to maintain the safety of the current stockpile.

Other government officials claim the U.S. nuclear policy is heavily influenced by non-scientific factors. Referring to the powerful nuclear lobby, one anonymous Clinton Administration official explained that, "In order to get the treaty through Congress, we had to buy off the labs." While the SSP may be viewed as the U.S. "cost" of the Test Ban, further testing, real or virtual, could have untold consequences for the world.

UPDATE by author Bill Mesler: "On December 9, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) conducted its fifth sub-critical nuclear weapons test at the Nevada test site. A DOE press release claimed that the test was carried out to 'ensure the safety and reliability of the stockpile without nuclear testing.' On the same day as the U.S. test, Russia conducted a sub-critical test at its site at Novaya Zemlya. In defending the experiment to the press, Russian officials pointed to the U.S. test as proof that sub-critical tests of nuclear weapons are permissible under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

"There are no signs that either country will change its policy on sub-critical nuclear testing. Nor does the DOE appear ready to end other activities in the Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP) that violate the principals and goals of the CTBT. Many American anti-nuclear groups remain reluctant to raise these issues because they fear it will hamper already difficult efforts to get the Republican Congress to ratify the treaty itself. Despite overwhelming opposition to nuclear testing, the vast majority of Americans remain ignorant of the controversy surrounding the SSP."

In August of 1999, on the anniversaries of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Peace Action Network will hold a demonstration at Los Alamos, the birthplace of the atomic bomb, to demand an end to sub-critical nuclear testing and the SSP.


To learn more about this issue and what you can do to help stop continued nuclear weapons testing, contact:

The Nuclear Program of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Tel: (202) 289-6868; e-mail: cpaine@nrdc.org.

Peace Action Network, contact Bruce Hall, Tel: (202)862-9740.


U.S. Tax Dollars Support Death Squads in Chiapas

On December 22, 1997, in the village of Acteal, in the highlands of the Mexican state of Chiapas, 45 indigenous men, women and children were shot as they were praying, their bodies dumped into a ravine. Elsewhere throughout the state of Chiapas, unarmed indigenous women face down armies "with fists held high in rebellion and babies slung from their shoulder." In Jalisco, more than a dozen young men were kidnapped and tortured. One of them, Salvador Jimenez Lopez, died, drowning in his own blood when his tongue was cut out. The group responsible for these and other atrocities are allegedly members of the Mexican Army Airborne Special Forces Groups (GAFE)-a paramilitary unit trained by U.S. Army Special Forces.

Mexican soldiers are being trained with U.S. tax dollars to fight an "alleged" War on Drugs. The real motive driving the U.S.-supported war, say peasant activists, is the protection of foreign investment rights in Mexico. "In Chiapas, U.S. tax money pays for weapons and military...to destroy a movement for social justice...because it stands in direct opposition to the right of international economic interests to maintain control of our lives. Any such movement for greater economic justice and political democracy means cutting into Wall Street's profits. The call for democracy, liberty, and justice isn't good for business," says the Zapatismo.

The United States transfers aid to the Mexican military in cash, weapons, and counterinsurgency training. The 1998 Clinton Administration budget earmarked more than $21 million dollars for the Mexican Drug War, including $12 million for Pentagon training in "procedures for fighting drug traffic." Anti-drug effort seems to continue to focus on the Chiapas region where 80 percent of the communities are in conflict zones.

According to the Zapatismo Papers (Wood), acts of inhumanity by GAFE were led by Lt. Col. Julian Guerrero Barrios, a 1981 graduate of the U.S.-sponsored School of Americas (SOA). Although it remains unknown how many of the 15 soldiers charged in the Acteal incident were trained at U.S. bases, the Pentagon has admitted that some of the soldiers arrested were U.S. trained.

The number of Mexican military officers and personnel receiving U.S. specialized training has been increasing significantly since 1996. According to a February 26 Washington Post report, the United States is now training Mexican officers at a rate of 1,067 a year at 17 bases. An estimated 3,200 Mexican soldiers will have received training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina from the U.S. Army 7th Special Forces (aka Green Berets) from 1996 through 1999. In the past 18 months, 252 Mexican officers have taken a 12-week course at Fort Bragg, also known as the "School of Assassins." The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is now training an elite 90-member intelligence unit, says Wood.

According to an article published by Slingshot in the summer of 1998, Mexico's military purchases from the United States have increased sharply since 1997. The Mexican government also wants the people of Chiapas to become accustomed to, and even dependent on, having the armed soldiers in their midst. The government has been providing and withholding health care based on political affiliation, and even resorting to involuntary sterilization. Armed soldiers have blockaded clinics, preventing residents of Zapatista communities from getting care. Harassment of foreign visitors has increased, forcing human rights observers to keep a low profile to avoid deportation. The war in Chiapas is not an ethnic or religious conflict, says the Zapatismo Papers (Wood), but rather "a conflict over the control of resources."

UPDATE by authors, Slingshot Collective: ''Since the article 'Mexico's Military: Made in the USA' appeared ... during the summer of 1998, the U.S. military has trained hundreds of thousands more Mexican officers in counterinsurgency tactics, which these officers then use against Mexicans struggling for self-determination, all under the guise of U.S. efforts against drugs.

"The U.S. government is so anxious to fight the War on Drugs that they have waived any right to oversee how U.S. military training is used back in Mexico. As a result, training that these officers receive, supposedly to conduct anti-drug activities, is being used to fight democracy advocates in Mexico. U.S. officials admit that the 'counter-narco' training offered on U.S. bases, like the School of the Americas in Georgia, and at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in the 1990s, is highly similar to training in 'counterinsurgency' tactics, used in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua in the 1980s to fight communism during the Cold War.

"In testimony before the House International Relations Committee Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere on July 29, Joel Solomon of Human Rights Watch recounted the results of this reckless policy. The Mexican army, fighting the Zapatista resistance (EZLN) in Chiapas, as well as the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) in Guerrero and Oaxaca, is increasingly guilty of gross human rights violations. According to Solomon, there have been hundreds of arbitrary arrests, forced confessions, temporary disappearances, torture, and even extrajudicial executions as the Mexican military has increased efforts against the EZLN and the EPR. Officers trained by the U.S. military have been implicated in these violations, including three senior officers listed in a letter by Rep. Joseph Kennedy II (D-MA).

"Reports from Americans living in Chiapas and observing the conflict zones describe how Mexican counter-drug agents accompany patrols engaged in counter Zapatista raids against pro-rebel communities.

"Resistance to U.S. military training of Mexican officers is increasing. On November 22 of this year, 2,319 nonviolent protesters trespassed at Fort Benning, Georgia, to protest the School of the Americas (SOA), which is located there. Although the SOA is now primarily training Mexicans, in the past the SOA has trained military officers from all over the Americas, including the officers who killed six Jesuit priests and two women in El Salvador in 1989, Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, Nicaraguan General Anastasio Somoza, and El Salvadoran death squad leader Robert D'Aubuisson.

"Most Americans don't support the use of U.S. tax dollars for the kind of training found at the School of the Americas. Only increased publicity about this issue, together with citizen action, can stop U.S. training programs for Mexican armies."


Environmental Student Activists
Gunned Down on Chevron Oil Facility in Nigeria

On May 28,1998, Nigerian soldiers were helicoptered by Chevron employees to the Chevron owned oil facility off the coast of Nigeria in order to attack student demonstrators who had occupied a barge anchored to the facility. After multiple attacks, two students lay dead, and several others were wounded. The students had been peacefully protesting at the site since May 25. One hundred and twenty-one youths from 42 different communities had gathered to oppose the environmental destruction brought on by Chevron's oil extraction practices.

For decades, the people of the Niger Delta have been protesting the destruction of their wetlands. Discharges into the creeks and waterways have left the region a dead land, resulting in the Niger Delta becoming one of the most heavily polluted regions in the world.

The students claim they had voiced their concerns many times and had scheduled a number of meetings with the company, but the meetings had been repeatedly canceled by Chevron. As a next step, the students organized the protest around the Chevron barge in order to draw Chevron's attention to the goal of environmental justice.

According to student leader Bola Oyinbo, approximately 20 of the 121 students surrounding the barge in small boats went on board to meet with a Nigerian Naval officer who was working for Chevron. Oyinbo stated that the students wanted to speak to a Mr. Kirkland, Chevron's managing director. Although the director never came, other Chevron officials did arrive the next day and promised to set up a meeting with the students at the end of May. The students agreed to leave the barge on May 28 in order to attend the proposed meeting.

As the students were getting ready to leave the barge, three helicopters piloted by Chevron employees attacked the student protesters. Oyinbo remembers the moment, "they came like eagles swooping on chickens. We never expected what came next." Soldiers in the choppers fired on students while in the air and after landing. "They shot everywhere," he says. "Arulika and Jolly fell. They died instantly. Larry, who was near them rushed to their aid, wanting to pick them up, but he was also shot." Eleven students were detained by the military group and taken to Akure for prosecution. Chevron filed a complaint against the group, saying they were pirates and should be interrogated.

During his imprisonment, one activist said he was handcuffed and hung from a ceiling fan hook for hours for refusing to sign a statement written by Nigerian federal authorities.


U. S. Media / Promotes Biased Coverage of Bosnia

In August 1992, media coverage of the civil war in Yugoslavia gained unprecedented influence on military decision-making processes in the West. Reports of horrifying conditions in camps run by the Bosnian Serbs galvanized world opinion. A visit to the camps of Omarska and Trnopolje by a British team from Independent Television (ITN) on August 5, 1992, gave rise to the image of the Serbs as the new Nazis of the Balkans. A widely published photo taken by ITN pictured an emaciated Muslim behind barbed wire with comrades imprisoned behind him. This famous photo became the symbolic link between the Bosnian Serbs and the Nazi concentration camps of World War II. International politicians sent troops into Bosnia. A wave of sanctions against Bosnian Serbs were established. In the United States, presidential candidate Bill Clinton took the initiative in his campaign, making references to the ITN pictures as he requested military action against the Serbs. The world became convinced that Bosnia was full of "bad Serbs" persecuting "good Muslims."

ITN's photo was not, however, as accurate as it seemed. The men in the photo were not standing behind barbed wire. In fact the Hague Tribunal confirmed that there was no barbed wire surrounding the Belsen '92 at Trnopolje. ITN's photo was taken looking outward from a small fenced enclosure inside the camp, not from outside looking in as the photo implies. The emaciated Muslim shown with his shirt off was in fact a very ill man selected to be featured in the photo. The other men in the photo look healthier and are clothed. Trnopolje was not a concentration camp, it was a refugee and transit center. Many Muslims traveled there for protection and could leave whenever they wished.

While the coverage of this image was not directly responsible for international diplomacy and military planning, it was the trigger that brought on an avalanche of actions. This was aided by Croatian secessionists and Bosnian Muslims who hired Ruder Finn (an American public relations firm) to advance their cause by targeting key publics in the United States who would respond appropriately to their demonization of the Serbs. Ruder Finn focused their public relation releases to target women and the Jewish community in the United States. The Western press was soon filled with stories of rape camps, death camps, and horrendous attacks by Bosnian Serbs with little or no verification of particular events, and little coverage of the Bosnian Serb side of the war. As the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina got underway in mid-1992, American journalists who repeated unconfirmed stories of Serbian atrocities could count on getting published. On the other hand, there was no market for stories by a journalist who discovered that Serbian "rape camps" did not exist (German TV reporter Martin Lettmayer). Nor was there a market for reporters who wrote stories about Muslim or Croat crimes against Serbs (Belgian journalist Georges Berghezan). It became increasingly impossible to challenge the dominant interpretation in the major media. Western editors seemed to prefer to keep the story simple: one villain and as much blood as possible.

Foreign news has always been easier to distort. TV crews sent into strange places, about which they know nothing, send back images of violence that give millions of viewers the impression that "everyone knows what is happening," and an aggressor is easily identified as the evil villain in need of the discipline of outside moral authorities.

UPDATE BY AUTHOR DIANA JOHNSTONE: "The truth about Yugoslavia may well be the most important censored, self-censored, distorted, and misunderstood story, not only of 1998, but of the whole decade. A drastic critical reevaluation is urgently necessary to prevent even greater disasters in the foreseeable future-notably in Kosovo. There, the one-sided anti-Serb bias has given both Albanian and Serb residents the impression that NATO is ready to support armed ethnic Albanian secessionists.

"Not only mainstream media, but even alternative outlets have turned down stories that fail to fit established stereotypes. However, even when journalists produce balanced reports, the effect is often offset by extremely biased editorials, cartoons, and commentaries, not to mention statements by Western government officials deliberately exploiting a troubled situation in order to justify a new expanded mission for NATO.

"By the end of 1998, it was clear that the conflict in Kosovo was merging dangerously with the debate over NATO's new strategy, with both scheduled to dominate the news in the spring of 1999, when NATO's 50th anniversary meeting appeared destined to coincide with the spring offensive of the armed ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo.

"There is no quick fix for understanding this story. A vast amount of information is available, but it takes time, experience and above all judgment to sort out truth from falsehood, and to evaluate the meaning of events. An excellent current source of information about Kosovo is the Web site of the Decani monastery: http://www.decani.yunet.com.

UPDATE BY AUTHOR THOMAS DEICHMANN: "Since the publication of my article there have been few discussions in the media about it. Many editors ignored the story. Supportive comments often were overwhelmed by smear articles coming mostly from the London Observer and Guardian that questioned my professional and personal integrity. Despite the slurs, no evidence disputing my story has been presented.

"ITN chose to use the repressive British libel laws to keep my story under wraps in the U.K. The writ threatens the very existence of LM magazine which published my piece. This action is a serious threat to the freedom of the press. Since the writ was served, the plaintiffs have done little to get the case to court. The many delays suggest that ITN is reluctant to do so. LM has already spent around £50.000, and is anxious to start the proceedings so all matters can be up for public discussion.

"During the Bosnian war, some reporters started following a morally-driven agenda. My article invited a discussion about how this dangerous trend has started. From the response to my piece however, it is obvious that I questioned an established orthodoxy which is not allowed to be challenged.

"BBC world affairs editor John Simpson alluded to this in his recently published book Strange Places, Questionable People. With reference to my story and the anti-Serb media coverage of intolerant liberals and right-wingers, he recalled Salman Rushdie's remark that religious people have 'a God-shaped hole in their lives.' Simpson concluded that 'one of the strangest coalitions of modern times seems to have a crusade-shaped hole in their lives, and Bosnia was cut and shaped to fit it.'

"You can find all information about my story and the libel case, and about ways to support LM at: http://www. informinc.co.uk/ITN-vs-LM/. You can contact LM at: Im@informinc.co.uk, Tel: (44) 171 269-9231, Fax: (44) 171-2699235. A German website with the article can be found at: http://www.novo-magazin.de/. If you want to get further involved in the issue you can reach me at: Thomas. Deichmann@t-online.de."


Global Oil Reserves Alarmingly Overestimated

Colin J. Campbell and Jean H. Laherrere, two independent oil-industry consultants, predict that global production of conventional oil will start to decline within the next 10 years, and be unable to keep up with demand. Their analysis contradicts oil-industry reports which suggest we have another 50 years worth of cheap oil to sustain us. As the independent report points out, economic and political motives cause oil-producing companies and countries to publish the inflated figure, and this affects all of us.

An estimate of existing oil reserves is one of the factors used to predict the ultimate recovery of oil, that is, all the c heap oil there is to be had. Even with modern technology, says Scientific American, estimating reserves is an inexact science. Petroleum engineers express reserves in terms of probability. Geologists may calculate that an oil field has a 90 percent chance of containing 700 million barrels of recoverable oil, but only a 10 percent chance of containing 2,000 million barrels of oil. Many companies and countries, however, freely report their reserves using any figure between 10 and 90 percent depending on which figures serve them best. For example, exaggerated estimates can raise the price of an oil company's stock. Also, a government may use inflated reserve estimates in order to enhance their political clout and their ability to obtain loans.

Member nations of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have an even more tangible reason to inflate their reported reserve estimates: the higher their reserves, the more oil they are allowed to export. This represents immediate income for those countries. During the 1980s, 6 of the 11 OPEC nations reported huge increases in their reserve amounts, ranging from 42 to 197 percent. There is good reason to suspect that this was done to increase their export quotas.

Many people believe that improved technology will get more oil out of the ground. It will, but oil companies routinely take improved technology into account when calculating reserve estimates. Current calculations already include improvements in recovery. Campbell and Laherrere's analysis takes other factors into account. For instance, the rate of oil consumption has been rising at over 2 percent per year. The rate of discovery of new oil has been declining. Large reserves of unconventional oil such as heavy oil, tar sands, and shale oil exist, but it is not economically feasible to extract them. Also, to do so might cause extreme environmental damage. Tar-sand oil has to be strip-mined, and heavy oils contain sulfur and heavy metals which must be removed.

Perhaps the biggest reason oil companies grossly inflate cheap oil estimates is that it removes a major motivation to develop alternative energy sources which would directly compete with oil as an energy source The longer the oil companies (and countries) lull us into thinking there is plenty of cheap oil available, the longer we delay developing solar power, fuel cells and other technologies that could replace oil.

UPDATE BY THE AUTHOR C.J. CAMPBELL: "'The End of Cheap Oil" covered a subject of the utmost importance to our subspecies. Hydrocarbon Man is today virtually the sole surviving human subspecies. He was born 150 years ago and will have become extinct by the end of the next century. The peak of oil production within the next decade will be a turning point with immense political and economic consequences. With about half of the remaining conventional oil Iying in five Middle East countries, world tensions are likely to erupt as the industrial countries vie with each other for access. Failure to understand that depletion is a natural phenomenon may lead to misguided military intervention.

"'The End of Cheap Oil' emphasized the atrocious state of public data on production and reserves, which have been corrupted by vested interests. Accordingly, the study evolves all the time as new information on the status of depletion in different countries comes in. The interpretation of the data is, however, simply a case of solving the equation: Peak Discovery + Time = Peak Production.

"The article has been subject to comment in a wide range of serious journals in many countries, including the Observer newspaper of London, Barron's Science, Science News, Geopolitique, and Die Stern. It has also led to lectures, seminars, and broadcasts. Even aircraft manufacturers and Walt Disney have reacted, seeing the impact on their businesses. But perhaps the most important response is the position of the International Energy Agency, the world's premier authority on energy supply, which has advised the G8 of the impending peak."


Further information and updates may be obtained from Campbell (etanjou@ perigord.com); Laherrere (j.h.laherrere @infonie.fr); and http://www.oil.crisis. com/laherrere

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